People have held the assumption of me that because I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness and de-stigmatization, that I have to be “all better,” or else I can’t promote the way I do. However, I never want to appear as if I’m “all better” and promote the “I got through it and so can you” type story. As many others out there, my mental illness is a work in progress too.
I’m alive because people care. I’m alive because there are trained professionals who do what it takes. I am alive because, regardless of the Voices and Suggestions, I found a way to follow my plan. I reached out when I needed help, when I knew that my illness wanted to kill me, and it failed because I didn’t. I survived because I fought back, and I did so in the ways designed by my doctor and my team and me.
I wonder if it’s possible to have Major Depression and ever live completely without the fear of it paralyzing me into oblivion. Then again, trying to surmise about my future is robbing me of my present. If I had a dime for every time I’ve been told to live for today, I’d have a boatload of coins stuck behind my sofa cushions.
If there’s one thing I regret so far this year, it’s not getting a flu shot. Against my doctor’s strong recommendation, I chose to forego getting the vaccine. I’d heard it only works 60 to 70% of the time, and my stubbornness combined with apprehension of having a live virus injected into my arm, simply as a precautionary method, with no guarantee, didn’t seem worth the risk.
At this point in history we are moving toward a more tolerant society where being who you are by nature is no longer a crime. Why then, I have to ask, does our country continue to maintain the errant belief that people living with a mental illness are an allowable target for public aggression?
If any of you are sliding into depression this winter I do have one consoling fact. Our days are getting longer now by one to two minutes of extra daylight per day. I, for one, am happy about this. For those of you who live in areas that don’t usually get such cold I really feel sorry for you. Hang in there!
Unbeknownst to me, my life was hurdling towards a brick wall. I was miserable; not sleeping; not enjoying one single thing. My self confidence and self esteem were on a slippery slope. I felt that I did not deserve to be with my girlfriend. But perhaps the most troubling factor was that I did not know that I had depression. I did not understand that I was ill. I did not know what mental illness was then.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of representing Bring Change 2 Mind on the popular live-streaming news network, HuffPost Live. The topic of the segment was Stigma and Mental Illness. As one of three guests speaking on this important subject, I was able to give a first-person account of living with Major Depression and Anxiety within the context of the different levels of support and compassion one receives when combating a mental versus physical illness.